If you are writing stellar reviews and tutorials on your blog, there is no reason to not incorporate affiliate marketing. Your readers are making those purchases anyway based on your recommendations. The company is offering you a percentage of that sale. Why aren’t you taking it?
What to Look for When Choosing an Affiliate Program
The program fits your site. There is an affiliate program for almost everything these days, from beauty products to vacation rentals. Just because a program is available doesn’t mean you should sign up. Push the boundaries of your content too far just for profit and you’ll lose your credibility. Stick with the offers that are a natural fit for your blog. (i.e. Merchants and products you are already blogging about.)
The company’s customer service is good. One reason you don’t want to sign up for every program under the sun is that some merchants stink. If they have bad customer service and poor reviews, that will impact your bottom line. We’re not only talking about your reputation but also your wallet. If your readers are returning purchases, those sales will likely be reversed by the affiliate manager. Reversed sale equals no commission to you. Why waste valuable links?
Commission rate. Some affiliate programs can be found in more than one network. If a program is available in Commission Junction and LinkShare, I’m going to promote the one with the higher commission if they are different. And sometimes a product can be found on more than one retailer site. If there is a significant difference in commission rates, that can add up.
What’s the average order size? Some programs will provide this information – ShareASale – others will not. This can give you a little insight into the program and there is money in the upsell a merchant offers. A lot of online retailers offer free shipping with minimum orders or a free bonus. This definitely works to your advantage. If I’m ordering a $27 product and I can pay $8 in shipping for a total of $35 or add an additional $8 in product to my cart to receive free shipping with a $35 order, I’m getting $35 in product. That’s a $35 sale to you as opposed to $27.
Do they pay on time? Many networks will not give you this information, some will. ShareASale and Impact Radius will both let you know if merchants are not paying their bills on time. If a merchant is repeatedly being taken offline, you may want to move to another program.
Cookie length. When a reader clicks through your affiliate link it sets a “cookie.” Even if they do not make a purchase at that time, if they come back while the cookie is still valid you will be credited with the sale. Some people get really hung up on cookie length. I’m not one of them. In most cases, Amazon cookies are only good for 24 hours. Does that mean I don’t make any sales on Amazon? No. Do I make less money on Amazon than I do with 90-day cookie merchants? Not necessarily. It’s all in where your reader is at in the buying cycle.
What is the coupon policy? You have got to pay attention to your merchants’ coupon policies. Some will only allow you to post coupon codes they provide you. That means if you see a code online somewhere that wasn’t provided specifically to affiliates and you pass it along to your readers, they can reverse those sales. In some cases they will decline your affiliate application for doing so. Always read the terms. This goes for sharing your affiliate links directly on social media as well. It may be prohibited.
Payment threshold. One big advantage of joining an affiliate network as opposed to individual programs is that your earnings from all merchants collect in one pot to meet the payment minimum. Would you rather promote 10 individual programs with a $100 minimum each or 10 programs within a network that has a $100 payment minimum? If you are a small publisher you’d probably prefer the latter.
Those are a few things to look for when applying to affiliate programs. How about a few recommendations? You likely noticed I mentioned ShareASale a few times within this article. They are one of my favorite networks. Here are a few of my favorite beauty and fashion blog affiliate programs within their network.
- ModCloth: 7% commission
- Cents of Style: 10%
- ShoeDazzle: $20 per sale; $1 per lead
- Stella & Dot: 10% per sale, $100 per lead (also frequently offers posting bonuses)
- Reebok: 10%
- Warby Parker: 10% per sale, $.50 per lead